First Year Apprenticeship Program

36th Annual 2020 First Year Apprenticeship Field Program

Medicinal Herbs Covered in Depth

Forest Floor

First year Apprentices will thoroughly explore many aspects of our local Northwest flora. We will study approximately 20 plants in depth. These herbs were intentionally selected
to serve as an accessible medicine chest and an herbal basis for further learning. Locating, harvesting, and processing this selection of roots, barks, leaves, flowers, and seeds gives you a rounded view of different plant harvesting techniques in a variety of ecosystems. We will create numerous herbal preparations from these herbs, and use them for further understanding.

This program will cover the details of hundreds of medicinal, edible, and poisonous plants that we don’t harvest. Apprentices will gain the knowledge to be able to wildcraft and use these plants safely; although they are not studied in depth.

Upon completion of the Apprenticeship, you will be able to identify, locate, harvest, process, and use unfamiliar plants outside of the class setting. This skill will apply throughout the world beyond the Pacific Northwest.

Topics Covered

  • Basic Botanical Terms
  • Plant Identification Through Keys: Practice is the only way to master this skill.
  • Plant Identification Through Field Characteristics: Certain plants are identifiable without a key by their unique markings.
  • Family Identification: We will cover the major plant families of the Northwest. This is a very useful plant identifying skill.
  • Plant Pressing: This will be an optional activity.
  • Ecosystem Identification
  • Locating Stands of Herbs: Our program is unique in that we focus heavily on teaching the skill of finding your own populations.
  • Tending and Propagating Stands of Herbs
  • Wildcrafting: We will explore values and techniques for different types of harvesting.
  • Herb Quality
  • Transporting Fresh Herbs
  • Cleaning and Processing Herbs: This is an essential part of plant harvesting. We will use all of the plants collected by the class. Apprentices will keep a complete selection of herbs.
  • Food and Spice Plants: We will have the opportunity to sample many wild foods.
  • Poisonous Plants: For safety, we will learn to identify plants that are poisonous or of unknown edibility that may be mistaken for useful plants.
  • Herbal Preparations: We will discuss poultices, teas, tinctures, oils, salves, facial astringents, lozenges, and more. We will make many herbal preparations in the field with fresh herbs. Apprentices keep a complete selection.
  • Forest Ecology
  • Threatened, Endangered, Rare, Sensitive, “To Watch”, and “At Risk” Plants and Ecosystems.

You Must Want To

  • Commit yourself to work hard. You cannot break field trip appointments, and must reasonably plan to finish the Apprenticeship.
  • Learn plant identification through keys and field characteristics.
  • Learn our wildcrafting methods, including a high regard for the local ecosystems and the continuation of the stand. This includes gathering nothing but garbage during field trips without permission.
  • Locate your own personal stands of medicinal and food plants.

What to Expect

Class sizes are small with generally six apprentices per field trip. With two teachers on each trip we can provide individual attention. We teach through the oral tradition of repetition. Class participation is required.

We encourage and arrange carpooling. Drivers will receive a per trip maintenance reimbursement from the school for wear and tear on their vehicles. The gas expense is shared with the passengers in the car.

There will be one weekend and one weekday group per week, each identical in material. Apprentices will be able to schedule one of these days even with a weekend job or Monday to Friday 9 to 5 employment. The lecture schedule will be arranged around the fieldwork.

Elephants Head, Pedicularis groenlandica

If you miss three field trips in the Spring Term, you can not continue as an apprentice. One cancellation without notice (no show) on a field trip is grounds for expulsion. Please turn off cell phones and recording devices. Do not bring dogs, llamas, friends, or a rushed attitude on field trips.

This Apprenticeship requires commitment and many hours of driving. It is exciting and rewarding in many ways, however, it is also hard work, and is not for everyone.

Spring Term

Field Trips: This term consists of ten weekly one day field trips in the Cascade Mountains. These trips focus on identifying, locating, and tending stands of herbs. We will harvest and process some medicinal herbs and stop along the way to enjoy food and spice plants. We will leave Eugene between 8:00 and 8:30 AM. We will return at dark (approximately 7:00 PM). Once the class starts, there may not be bathroom facilities. Do not make appointments for after the field trips as you may wish to remain in the woods longer for hot springs, swimming, changing flat tires, and other unforeseen exciting experiences. Pack a good lunch and an extra meal. Bad weather will not stop us from taking these trips. The term will finish with an eleventh trip, the Spring Overnight.

Lectures: In the Spring Term, we
will arrange two weekly 2 1/2-hour evening lectures. In one lecture, we will
discuss each field trip in detail and practice plant identification. The other
lecture night will be our Herbal Concepts and Northwest Materia Medica series. Once a month, we will have a 2 1/2 hour Herbal Preparations Lab.
These will run from 6:00 to 8:30 PM in Eugene.

See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Overnight Trips: This term consists of four overnight field trips, one
approximately every other week. These are similar to one day trips, but with a
closer feeling for the earth. We will go to some remote and powerful places. We
will use the botanical and ecological skills learned in the Spring Term to
locate and harvest medicinal and food plants. We generally car camp.

A series of eight three hour lectures on herbal preparations and medicinal uses will be scheduled accordingly.

Enrollment in the Summer Term is based on the successful completion of the Spring Term. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

Upon Completion of the First Year Apprenticeship Program

Apprentices come from diverse backgrounds and take this course for a variety of reasons. They are health professionals, botanists, students, herbalists, survivalists, and folks who know nothing about plants or nature but want to. What you take with you from this Apprenticeship depends on what you’re looking for and what you put into it.

We will award a Certificate of Completion to those students who successfully attend 80% of field classes and lectures during both the Spring and Summer Terms. You will not be able to use this to start practicing naturopathy or diagnosing and prescribing. This is not a skill easily obtained in a few months study.

Low Elevation Meadow

This Apprenticeship has been used for biology or botany credits in State Universities and High Schools. Arrangements need to be made by you with your school. Some apprentices have secured botanical jobs from the US Forest Service and other public and private agencies. College requirements are often waived in entry level positions in lieu of the experience of the Apprenticeship. Anyone seeking to become a naturopathic health practitioner needs to know where plant medicines come from (not the health food store) and develop personal associations with the plants they prescribe. Most naturopathic schools lack wildcrafting courses. This Apprenticeship is an ideal first year introduction to herbal medicine.

Not everyone will become naturopaths, botanists, or disappear into the forests to live on wild foods. Most continue to harvest and make yearly batches of extracts for themselves and their families. Everyone will, however, define his or her relationship to nature in a way that will last a lifetime.

Fall Field Elective

This elective field option is designed for those students who wish to continue weekly field trips after the Summer Term of the first year Apprenticeship Field Program has ended. The class will focus on botanical skills and fall harvesting techniques.

Completion of the first year Apprenticeship Field Program is required. The instructors are Steven Yeager and Heron Brae. See the Academic Calendar for current dates and prices.

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